The Gulf of Mexico covers an exceedingly wide area, including fishing locations off the coast of Louisiana. Crabbers, fishermen, lobstermen, and other seamen perform important jobs in the Gulf, but they also have to deal with alarmingly high injury rates due to the nature of the work.
After suffering an injury during a Gulf commercial fishing accident, you are likely worried about paying your bills while recovering and racking up medical expenses. That’s why you need to speak with an attorney for help in pursuing the full compensation you deserve.
Types of Commercial Fishing That May Lead to Serious Accidents
Commercial fishing operations are often exceedingly dangerous professions due to treacherous waters and weather that doesn’t cooperate. Sadly, crew injuries are even more likely to happen when vessel owners don’t uphold their basic duty of care to keep workers safe. Injuries caused by negligence may occur with:
- Lobstermen and crabbers
- Longliner boats
- Scallop and clam boats
- Seafood processing vessels
- Trolling vessels
- Tuna and swordfish fishing
Shrimping operations in the Gulf of Mexico in particular have an abnormally high rate of accidents as well as an increased rate of fatalities from those incidents. If you are currently employed on a shrimping boat, you are likely to sustain an injury during the course of normal duties and end up needing to pursue compensation through maritime law.
Dangers of Commercial Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico
It’s already easy for crew members to slip and fall on wet surfaces or when the vessel rocks back and forth. Falling overboard, sustaining head wounds from heavy equipment, and getting cut on sharp surfaces are all potential accidents facing commercial fishermen.
The situation becomes much worse when vessel owners or management behave negligently. They may fail to provide proper materials, fix damaged equipment, or take other actions to prevent well-known types of accidents from occurring. Fishermen, shrimpers, and others are susceptible to injuries because of the following:
- Absence of necessary tools
- Broken or missing safety features, such as guard rails on various equipment
- Colliding with another boat or object
- Fishing in poor weather conditions
- Lack of proper training
- Mechanical failure
- Missing non-skid or non-slip materials
- Understaffing boat crew
- Usage of old or poorly maintained equipment
There aren’t just dangers to commercial fishing crews in the Gulf on the deck, either. Refrigerated areas for seafood transport, sewage tanks, ballast tanks, slop holds, and other areas may all pose a danger of injury to the crew if they aren’t properly maintained.
Victims are also susceptible to injuries while diving in the water or performing duties on the side of the boat. In particular, you need to be aware of the risk of commercial fishing injuries such as:
- Amputation or loss of limbs
- Cuts and lacerations
- Lack of oxygen in poorly maintained refrigerators or slop areas
- Slip and fall injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Wrongful death
How to Protect Yourself Legally and Financially After a Commercial Fishing Injury
Finding the best lane that heads towards a full and fair financial recovery means going through complex and often confusing legal avenues. One reason is that accidents at sea or in certain harbor or longshore situations aren’t covered under workers' compensation laws. Instead, injury victims must pursue compensation through federal maritime laws.
That requires knowing if you are actually categorized as a seaman or not under the Jones Act. By filing a claim under that law, you can pursue compensation for expenses like medical bills and your basic cost of living while recovering on land.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident and due to restrictions in Louisiana maritime rules, you may also need to file a separate personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party for other damages. That liable party could be the manufacturer of a faulty part, the vessel owner, or someone else entirely.
It should be obvious at this point that maritime law can become complicated. That’s one crucial reason why you need an experienced maritime injury attorney on your side. Here’s what you specifically need to do if you were hurt during a commercial fishing accident in the Gulf of Mexico:
- Inform the vessel owner of the accident. If any sort of report is filed, be sure to ask for a copy.
- Gather evidence surrounding the accident if you can. This includes things such as photos of dangerous or poorly maintained equipment that led to the injury.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. You want to both catch potential internal injuries that may have been missed at the time of the accident, and create a clearly-documented paper trail. That’s important for establishing when your injury occurred and how it is impacting your quality of life, which will affect the value of your damages.
- Talk to a qualified New Orleans maritime attorney.
It is vitally important to get to that last step quickly, as investigating the accident to determine liability and going through the process of valuing your damages takes time. Unfortunately, there is a strict statute of limitations on commercial fishing accident cases, which is why you want to get started as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can also help you avoid common strategies used by negligent vessel owners for reducing or denying the compensation you are fairly owed.
Talk to a Professional Who Will Fight for Your Legal Rights as a Commercial Fisherman
Were you or someone you love seriously hurt in a Gulf of Mexico commercial fishing accident? You need an experienced maritime attorney to protect your legal rights and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. We have a history of helping longshoremen, offshore workers, and seamen injured on the job and want to hear about your accident. Get in touch with our trial-ready team for a consultation by calling 504-500-1111 or sending a message through our online portal.